LIVE UPDATES: Operation Protective Edge, day 19
Israel agrees to extend pause in fighting until midnight Sunday ● Rockets fired at Israel's south and center ● 2 IDF soldiers die of wounds ● Palestinian death toll passes 1,000.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge entered its 19th day on Saturday, marking the ninth day of the Israel Defense Forces' ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.
A 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire went into effect at 8 A.M., during which the IDF continued to destroy Hamas' tunnel network. On Friday, Israel's security cabinet rejected a proposal brought forth by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to end the fighting and begin negotiations between Israel and Hamas.
Seven soldiers were killed and 35 were wounded in fighting in Gaza since Friday evening. The fallen are Staff Sgt. Guy Boyland, 21, from Ginosar; Amit Yeori, 20, from Jerusalem Roy Peles, 21, from Tel Aviv; Avraham Grintzvaig, 21, from Petah Tikva; and Gal Bason, 21, from Holon, Capt. Liad Lavi, 22, from Sde Nizan, and Chief Warrant Officer Rami Chalon, 39, from Hadera. Since Operation Protective Edge began, 43 Israeli soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, the death toll in the Gaza operation has passed the 1,000 mark. Palestinian officials have filed a complaint to the International Criminal Court, accusing Israel of war crimes.
Meanwhile, Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces continued to clash in the West Bank.
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Latest updates (Saturday)
11:59 P.M. The Israeli security cabinet voted to ascend to the UN's request and to approve a humanitarian pause in fighting until midnight Sunday. During this period, the IDF will continue to neutralize Gaza tunnels and will respond to violations of the pause. Ministers Bennett, Lieberman, and Aharonovich voted against the extension. The cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss the next step in the military operation in Gaza. (Barak Ravid)
11:53 P.M. Rocket siren sounds in Be'er Sheva.
11:43 P.M IDF says two soldiers died from their wounds on Saturday. They are Capt. Liad Lavi, 22, from Sde Nizan, and Chief Warrant Officer Rami Chalon, 39, from Hadera. 42 IDF soldiers and officers have been killed since the beginning of the Gaza operation. (Gili Cohen)
11:34 P.M. Dr. Saeb Erekat, Member of PLO executive committee, said Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza and that the Palestinian leadership is discussing cease-fire proposals, mainly with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. According to Erekat, Israel's agreement to the 12-hour pause in fighting was a tactical matter only, and that what is happening on the ground is a renewed takeover of part of Gaza. Erekat added that a cease-fire cannot be discussed while Israeli tanks sit deep in the Gaza Strip. "We are afraid Israel is about to carry out a much more dangerous plan in the Gaza Strip," he said. (Jack Khoury)
10:45 P.M. Hamas senior official Musa Abu Marzouk says the Egyptian cease-fire initiative does not accord with Hamas' stance. In a Facebook post, Abu Marzouk wrote that "the disagreement over the Egyptian initiative pertains not only to the details, but to terms, like the definition of the resistance as aggression, or the phrasing which discusses negotiation based on the 67' line, and the recognition of the international community's decisions. These are positions which do not correspond with the resistance's stance." (Jack Khoury)
10:20 P.M. Hamas' military wing takes responsibility for rocket fire to south and central Israel. (Jack Khoury)
Iron Dome intercepts two rockets fired toward Ashkelon. Another rocket was intercepted over Kiryat Ekron area in central Israel. Another rocket explodes in open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, causing no damage. Earlier, rocket sirens were sounded in Ashkelon and in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Sirens were also sounded minutes earlier in central Israel. (Shirly Seidler, Gili Cohen)
In Tel Aviv, the demonstration against the war in Gaza is cut short, after police asks for the event to be ended due to the resumed rocket fire from Gaza. Three people were arrested in the demonstration. (Zafrir Rinat and Yaniv Kubovich)
9:41 P.M. Diplomatic source tells Haaretz that Hamas is prepared to accept a 24 hour extension of the humanitarian pause in Gaza fighting contingent on Israeli cabinet decision. (Barak Ravid)
8:40 P.M. Cabinet meeting to be held at 9:00 P.M. (Barak Ravid)
8:23 P.M. Four children were killed and five other people were injured when a rocket landed near their homes in Rafah, an Egyptian town in Sinai near the border with Gaza, security officials say.
Three security sources said the rocket was likely fired by Islamist militants operating in the Sinai peninsula, which borders Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip. (Reuters)
8:20 P.M. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman objects to extending the humanitarian pause in fighting by 24 hours: "If the UN and the Red Cross asked for a four-hour extension there's no reason not to do so. But I don't see any reason to extend the cease-fire beyond that, because then it's a crawling cease-fire… and stopping just so the next day Hamas will start digging tunnels and manufacturing rockets again – what did we do that for."
In an interview for Channel 2, Lieberman says that "We've succeeded in the international arena, both in the UN and in the EU," and adds that this gives Israel leeway. (Haaretz)
8:14 P.M. Some 3,000 people gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to protest against Israel's operation in Gaza. A few dozen are staging a counter-protest. (Zafrir Rinat)
8:03 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in south, after Israel agrees to extend pause. Four mortar shells explode in open areas in Eshkol Regional Council. (Shirly Seidler)
7:38 P.M. The humanitarian cease-fire has been extended until 12:00 A.M.
A senior Israeli official says the UN has requested Israel for a 24-hour humanitarian pause in fighting, starting at 8:00 P.M. The security cabinet has agreed to extend the pause by four hours, until midnight, to give the cabinet time to discuss the UN request.
Hamas say they have not yet agreed to extend to pause. Senior Hamas member Mahmoud A-Zahar says that "any cease-fire agreement must befit the sacrifice and price paid by the Palestinian people in Gaza, and the firm stance by the resistance." (Barak Ravid, Jack Khoury)
7:24 P.M. Police reverses ban on protests in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, due to reports of an extension of the cease-fire until 12:00 A.M, the organizers of the demonstration say. Earlier it was reported that police forbade demonstrations against and for the Gaza operations from taking place in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, due to the threat of rockets from Gaza. (Zafrir Rinat)
6:55 P.M. UN envoy Robert Serry says efforts underway to broker an extension of the humanitarian pause for an additional extendable period of 24 hours, to allow vital humanitarian efforts to continue.
Islamic Jihad senior member says "We're carefully examining the cease-fire offers; we don't want to fall in the trap of international interests."
Meanwhile, URWA spokesperson says over 165,000 Palestinians have fled their homes to the organization's shelters in Gaza. The Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported 151 bodies have been found since Saturday morning in the Strip, most of them in the south and in Shujaiyeh. (Barak Ravid, Gili Cohen, Jack Khoury)
6:37 P.M. Israel Police says it will not allow demonstrations in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. A rally calling for an end to the Gaza operation, as well as a rally to support Operation Protective Edge, are scheduled to be held at 8.00 P.M at Rabin Square.
The police said it has safety concerns regarding large crowds congregating in open spaces due to the rocket threat from Gaza. It is still unclear how many people will show up at Rabin Square and how police will respond. (Yaniv Kubovich)
6:33 P.M. Turkish Airlines resumes flights to and from Israel. (Zohar Blumenkrantz)
6:40 P.M. Hamas spokesperson in Gaza says the group is examining the possibility of extending the cease-fire, but that no official decision has been made. (Jack Khoury)
6:15 P.M. Ministers are being asked on the phone to extend humanitarian cease-fire by four hours, a senior official says. The 12-hour cease-fire is set to end at 8 P.M. In the security cabinet meeting Saturday evening, ministers will discuss the Gaza operation and the possibility of extending the cease-fire until the morning. The senior official notes that the IDF will not stop operations to destroy tunnels in the Strip during the cease-fire. (Barak Ravid)
5:17 P.M.: IDF Spokesman says 3 IDF soldiers were killed overnight in Gaza Strip: 1st. Lieut. Roy Peles, 21, from Tel Aviv, a Combat Engineering Corps soldier killed in combat in the northern Gaza Strip when militants fired an anti tank missile that hit the armored vehicle he was in; St. Sgt. Avraham Grintzvaig, 21, from Petah Tikva, an infantry soldier killed in comabt in the northern Strip; St. Sgt. Gal Bason, 21, from Holon, a Combat Engineering Corps soldier also killed in the northern Gaza Strip.
The name of another soldier, killed on Friday evening, was also released: St. Sgt. Amit Yeori, 20, from Jerusalem, killed in combat in the southern Gaza Strip.
5:05 P.M. Israel's security cabinet will convene at 8:30 P.M. at the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv to discuss the Gaza operations and the diplomatic discussions to sign a cease-fire. (Barak Ravid)
3:30 P.M. Foreign ministers from seven nations attending a summit in Paris over the conflict in Gaza called for an extension of the 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire declared in the Gaza Strip, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Saturday noon.
Fabius issued the statement with the foreign ministers of the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar and Turkey, as well as the EU's deputy foreign minister, standing behind him. The group of senior diplomats convened in Paris per the request of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss efforts to seek a cease-fire.
There were no envoys from Israel, Egypt or the Palestinian Authority. However, Hamas was represented by the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey. (Barak Ravid)
Meanwhile, Cairo says that it will summon Turkish envoy over Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's comments that Egypt doesn't have sincere approach to Palestinian issue. (Reuters)
14:30 P.M. An Israeli mission in Beit Hanun killed dozens of Palestinian militants and destroyed several munition depots, antitank missile launch sites and observation points overnight, the IDF says. The Nahal Brigade and an Armored Corps brigade were involved in the mission. The IAF also dropped 100 bombs overnight, each containing a ton of explosives. (Gili Cohen)
1:08 P.M. Turkey lifted a ban on flights to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, the state's SHGM aviation authority says.
"Taking into account the current cease-fire situation, the flight ban on Israel's Ben Gurion airport has been lifted, pending a subsequent announcement," it said via its Twitter account. (Zohar Blumenkrantz and Reuters)
12:35 P.M. The number of bodies pulled out of the rubble in Gaza reaches 81, four hours after the humanitarian cease-fire allows rescue forces to access buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes. According to the Palestinian health ministry, this brings the death toll in the Israeli operation in Gaza to more than 1,000. (Amira Hass)
12:30 P.M. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry begins talks with the foreign ministers of Qatar, Turkey, France, Britain, Germany and Italy, as well as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, over a cease-fire in Gaza. Earlier, Kerry met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The latter criticized Israel on Twitter over its rejection of Kerry's cease-fire proposal. "Israel's stance clearly indicates how disingenuous they are about the peace efforts," he wrote. (Barak Ravid)
12:03 P.M. The number of Israeli soldiers hospitalized across Israel reaches 138; three are in critical condition and four are treated for serious wounds. (Ido Efrati)
11:36 A.M. Thailand asks the Israeli government to move its workers away from the border with Gaza, the Nation newspaper reports.
According to the report, the Thai embassy in Israel also urged employers and employees to stop work until the situation is safer. The foreign ministry said it would try to stop Thais from going to work in Gaza until the situation stabilizes. (DPA)
11:17 A.M. The Palestinian Authority's official radio station reports that in the first two hours of the humanitarian cease-fire, rescue forces have pulled out 60 civilians' bodies from buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes across the Gaza Strip. (Amira Hass)
10:00 A.M. Some 2,500 Israelis stranded in Turkey make their way back to Israel, via Athens, following an effort coordinated by the state.
The passengers, whose flights were cancelled due to rocket fire on Israel earlier this week, were brought back on special El Al, Arkia and Israir flights. The effort, which began on Thursday and was completed on Saturday, has cost Israel 2.5 million shekels. (Zohar Blumenkrantz)
9:30 A.M. The humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza is allowing Palestinian emergency rescue crews to access buildings that were bombed by Israeli forces over the past week.
The latest strike took place early on Saturday, when a fighter jet targeted a four-story building in Khan Yunis. So far 19 deaths have been reported in the attack, including 11 children, According to the Sama news agency. Those killed were members of the al-Najar family who fled the village of Khouza'a, east of Khan Yunis. Some 10,000 residents of the village and neighboring towns evacuated their homes due to Israeli strikes and are seeking shelter in Khan Yunis.
Five other Palestinians were killed in separate incidents across the Gaza Strip in the hours that preceded the cease-fire. Two men, ages 39 and 52, were killed in the center of the Strip. Another 32-year-old man was shot to death while trying to pull out bodies from homes destroyed in eastern Khan Younis. Two others, ages 19 and 16, were killed in the Sheikh Radwan refugee camp.
Earlier, a strike on a home in Gaza City killed Hussam Yassin, 15, the grandson of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. (Amira Hass)
9:15 A.M. Palestinian rescue forces pull out four bodies from rubble in the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza, and three more in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood. The seven were killed in Israeli strikes. (Jack Khoury)
8:50 A.M. Despite the humanitarian cease-fire, the IDF continues to destory tunnels discovered underneath Gaza. So far 31 tunnels have been found; 15 of them have been destroyed, some with bulldozers and some with explosives.
A senior Israeli officer says the cease-fire will go on "providing that the terrorists in the tunnels will abide by it. Gunfire will be met with gunfire."
According to the IDF, the number of Palestinian militants killed in the fighting is higher than previously thought, surpassing 300. The Paratroopers Brigade reported several incidents of fighting overnight in the Gaza Strip's south overnight. Several gunmen were killed. (Gili Cohen)
7:14 A.M. Twenty were killed in an Israeli shelling of a building in Khan Yunis early on Saturday, according to initial reports in Palestinian media. (Amira Hass)
7:00 A.M. Two Palestinians were killed in protests in the West Bank overnight. (Chaim Levinson)
5:36 A.M. IDF Spokesperson issued a statement saying that two soldiers were killed in fighting in Gaza Friday evening. One of the deceased was Staff Sgt. Guy Boyland, a 21-year-old combat engineer from Ginosar. In addition, three soldiers sustain serious injuries, 13 sustained moderate injuries and an additional 19 soldiers sustained light injuries. The families were notified. Since Operation Protective Edge began 37 IDF officers and soldiers were killed. (Gili Cohen)
4:50 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in several towns on the Gaza border.
2:24 A.M. Three rockets intercepted over Ashkelon. (Shirly Seidler)
1:55 A.M. Rocket sirens sound in the Ashkelon area.
12:55 A.M. IDF forces stationed in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip continued bombing a hospital in the area before midnight Friday. There are approximately 60 medical staff members in the hospital, in addition to three patients and two international solidarity activists. Several people were injured in the fire including one swede. Most of the patients were already evacuated from the premises.
"It's now chaos, the military is shelling directly at us. There are two patients on the second floor and we think they're okay, but we can't move them easily as they're bed-bound. I'm bleeding from a head wound and there's another person injured. People are very frightened," Fred Ekblad, a Swedish activist said. (Amira Hass)
12:26 A.M. A senior Israeli official tells Haaretz that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Israel will begin a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza starting at 7 A.M. Saturday. The official went on to explain that the cease-fire was intended to allow the Palestinian civilian population to obtain food and water and to restock the hospitals with drugs, as well as to allow international aid organizations to provide humanitarian aid. (Barak Ravid)
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